AAA Mid-Atlantic Virginia State Police Rider Alert Program
Martha M. Meade Deborah Cox Shannon Jackson
Office: (804) 323-6510 Office: (804) 674-2843 Office: (804) 343-3608
Cell: (804) 543-7190 Cell: (804) 356-3688 firstname.lastname@example.org
Office: (804) 254-1101
ALL DRIVERS ENCOURAGED TO SHARE THE ROAD
DURING MOTORCYCLE SAFETY AWARENESS MONTH
Virginia Motorcycle Registrations Soared 104 Percent from 2001 to 2010 –
Safety is Vital
RICHMOND, VA (Tuesday, May 1, 2012) – Spring is upon us, marking the seasonal return of
motorcycle enthusiasts to the Commonwealth’s roadways. Virginia Secretary of Public Safety, AAA
Mid-Atlantic, the Virginia State Police and the Richmond Ambulance Authority are joining numerous
federal, state and local highway safety organizations to remind motorists to be extra alert for
motorcyclists and to safely share the road during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
Motorcycle registrations soared 104 percent in Virginia from 2001 to 2010, and as gas prices are
expected to stay high throughout spring and summer with the arrival of warmer weather, the number of
motorcyclists on the road will likely continue to increase. Therefore, it is important for both motorists and
motorcyclists to be aware of one another and exercise caution to keep all drivers safe.
“Virginia is honored to be a popular traveling and touring destination for motorcycle enthusiasts,”
said Secretary of Public Safety Marla G. Decker. “The Commonwealth’s recognition of the month of May
as ‘Virginia Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month’ helps bring attention to the dire need for all drivers
and riders to responsibly share the road with one another. Safe driving practices by all motorists are
paramount to keeping our highways and scenic byways free of fatalities and injuries.”
According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, motorcycle crashes increased by 15
percent in 2011 compared to 2010 in the Commonwealth, with 90 motorcycle riders killed and 2,036
injured. Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than passenger vehicle drivers in the event of a crash.
Research shows that approximately 80 percent of motorcycle crashes injure or kill a motorcycle rider,
while only 20 percent of passenger car crashes injure or kill a driver or passenger.
“Motorcycle safety is the responsibility of everyone, from motorists and motorcyclists to first
responders. Motorcyclists must be properly trained, follow traffic laws and wear visible clothing.
Motorists need to remain alert at all times and give motorcyclists plenty of room. First-responders need
access to vital, life-saving information. That’s why the Richmond Ambulance Authority spearheaded the
Rider Alert program,” said Rob Lawrence, chief operating officer of Richmond Ambulance Authority.
MOTORCYCLE SAFETY AWARENESS MONTH, PAGE 2 OF 3
Rider Alert (www.rideralert.org) was launched in April 2011 to help reduce motorcycle fatalities
by providing first-responders with medical information needed to help injured cyclists. Through
identification data cards placed inside helmets, first-responders have access to vital, life-saving
information on injured riders involved in accidents, so they can provide faster and more accurate medical
assistance, thus saving more lives.
“We are very pleased with Rider Alert’s progress to educate drivers and riders on motorcycle
safety. In just over a year, we have distributed 195,000 rider cards to motorcyclists in Virginia, New York
and a number of other states. A version of Rider Alert launched in Sweden in March and, this month,
Rider Alert Programs are launching in Arizona, Kentucky and Texas. The rapid success of Rider Alert is
a direct result of the strong partnerships we have formed locally, statewide, nationally and abroad, and we
appreciate the committed efforts of all those involved,” added Lawrence.
“Rider Alert is proving to be a valued partner to Bon Secours and other health care providers
across the Commonwealth,” said Toni Ardabell, CEO Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital. “With the critical
information that the data cards are providing to first-responders, our emergency departments and medical
professionals are better prepared to provide on-time care and treatment to injured cyclists. Together, we
are saving lives and improving the quality of care.”
In addition to equipping DOT approved helmets with the Rider Alert card, motorcyclists must
remember that regardless of their best prevention efforts, motorcycle crashes happen. Therefore,
concentration is vital when riding. Motorcyclists must treat all drivers on the road with courtesy and
respect, ride where they can be seen, and avoid blind spots of other vehicles.
Motorists also have a responsibility to safely share the road, not just during Motorcycle Safety
Awareness Month, but year-round. “All drivers play a key role in motorcycle safety. Because
motorcyclists have no metal cage, airbag or seatbelt to protect them in a crash, they are much more
vulnerable than passenger vehicle drivers in a crash,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, manager of Public and
Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “If a car can be completely invisible in another vehicle’s
blind spot, then imagine how easily a motorcycle can hide due to the motorcycle’s smaller size. It’s
essential for drivers to respect the danger lurking in their vehicle’s blind spots and to properly adjust their
mirrors in order to reduce that danger as much as possible.”
“With the motorcycle riding season well underway, we ask all drivers to remain alert and share
the road equally with the motorcycling community,” stressed Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State
Police Superintendent. “Regardless of the vehicle you drive, your best protection is to drive defensively.
Drivers should check their mirrors before merging with traffic or changing lanes to ensure a motorcyclist
isn’t hidden in a blind spot. Motorcycle riders should always watch the speed limit; if you’re a novice
rider, always recognize your limitations while operating a motorcycle.”
Tips for Motorists
Share the road. A motorcycle has the same privileges as any other vehicle on the road. Be
courteous and give the motorcyclist a full lane of travel.
Position your mirrors to minimize blind spots. Before starting your vehicle, adjust the rearview
mirror so it shows as much of the rear window as possible. While in the driver’s seat, place your
head near the left window and adjust the left side-view mirror so you can just see the side of your
vehicle. Then position your head near the middle of the vehicle, above the center console, and
adjust the right side-view mirror so you can just see the side of your vehicle. Remember, it may
take time to adjust to this view, so it’s important before driving with the new settings to practice
looking at objects at the side and rear of your car.
Look out. Look for motorcyclists on the highway, especially at intersections when a cyclist may
be making a turn or changing lanes. Clearly signal your intentions.
MOTORCYCLE SAFETY AWARENESS MONTH, PAGE 3 OF 3
Anticipate a motorcyclist’s maneuvers. Obstructions (debris, potholes, etc.) that you may
ignore or not notice can be deadly for a motorcyclist. Anticipate their possible evasive actions.
Allow plenty of space. Do not follow a motorcycle too closely. Allow enough room for the
motorcyclist to take evasive actions.
Keep your cool. Even if you get agitated seeing a motorcyclist making unsafe moves, do not
attempt to play games on the road.
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
Make yourself visible. Choose protective gear that provides visibility and protection. This
includes wearing bright colors. If riding at night, wear clothing with reflective materials.
Allow space. Position your bike in the lane so that you can be seen. Allow additional space for
emergency braking and room to maneuver. Avoid riding in a motorist’s blind spot. Make lane
changes gradually and use appropriate signaling.
Never share a lane beside a car. A driver may be unaware of your presence. Most drivers are
looking for larger vehicles, not motorcycles.
Clearly signal your intentions. Use turn signals before changing lanes and never weave between
Don’t speed. Obey the posted limits and adjust your speed to the changing road conditions.
Wear protective gear.
Helmet – Always wear a U.S. DOT-approved helmet. It can save your life and it is the law in
Eye protection – Visibility is key to riding safely. Many motorcycles do not have
windshields. Riders should protect their eyes with goggles that can shield the face from wind
and debris, both of which can cause tearing and, blurred vision.
Body Protection – Jackets with long sleeves and trousers protect limbs from injury.
Gloves – Durable gloves should be a non-slip type to permit a firm grip on controls.
Footwear – Proper over-the-ankles footwear should be worn to help prevent injuries.
Complete a motorcycle rider education and training course. The overwhelming majority of
motorcyclists have had no formal training – they were self-taught or learned from family and
friends. Before operating a motorcycle in Virginia, a rider must pass the motorcycle knowledge
exam, hold a motorcycle learner’s permit for 30 days and pass the motorcycle road skills test.
Completing a Virginia Rider Training Course exempts the rider from taking the exams.
The Rider Alert motorcycle safety program distributes free identification data cards that help first responders to
provide rapid and accurate medical assistance to motorcyclists involved in serious accidents. Launched by the
Richmond Ambulance Authority, Bon Secours Virginia Health System and Motorcycle Virginia! In April 2011, Rider
Alert is the first program of its kind in the United States. The Rider Alert card is placed inside a rider’s helmet and
contains vital life-saving information, emergency contacts and important medical history. When first responders
arrive on the scene of a motorcycle accident, a sticker on the outside of the helmet will indicate that the biker has a
Rider Alert card. The sticker also warns bystanders not to remove the helmet, which could cause further injury. For
more information, please visit www.rideralert.org.
AAA Mid-Atlantic serves nearly 808,000 members in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is the nation’s fifth largest
auto club with nearly 4 million members in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania,
and New Jersey. It provides a wide range of personal insurance, travel, financial and automotive services through
its 50-plus retail branches, regional operations centers, and the Internet. For more information on AAA Mid-
Atlantic, please visit our web site at www.AAA.com. Persons wanting to comment on this issue can go to AAA Mid-
Atlantic’s Community pages at http://www.AAA.com/community and post comments. The organization is anxious to
hear from travelers with their thoughts on this subject and others.